Keynote abstracts

Andy Bennett: Youth cultural practice and well-being

Academic research on youth cultures is now an established aspect of many disciplinary fields, including (cultural) sociology, cultural, studies, media studies, (social) history, criminology and psychology. During the 1970s and 1980s, the dominance of subcultural theory within and across different fields responsible for generating youth culture scholarship tended to produce a focus on deviant and / or resistance based youth leisure practices (see, for example, Hall and Jefferson, 1976; Brake, 1985). Problematically, such work has tended to skew the emphasis in youth cultural research towards aspects of crime, delinquency and other pathological facets associated with social inequality and exclusion. Although such matters cannot be disassociated from youth cultural practices, such a thematic bias evolved at the expense of work offering a more balanced view of such practices, including positive effects that contribute to the well-being of those young people involved. Twenty years ago Bennett’s (1998; 1999) work on the Frankfurt Rock Mobil project offered insights as to how creative involvement in rap and other music projects had positive effects for youth in terms of social inclusion and self-esteem. As the capacity for youth to engage in such creative projects, often utilizing skills they have acquired as part of youth cultures, for example, punk, hardcore and hip hop (see, for example, Haenfler, 2018; Golpushnezhad, 2018) have grown, opportunities to study and evaluate the connections between this involvement and aspects of youth well-being have also increased. The emergence of creative digital media technologies since the late 1990s have been an important part of this shift as has the increasing emphasis now placed on creative practices as an aspect of youth transitions. The purpose of this keynote lecture will be to provide a preliminary overview of this emerging field of research and how it may help provide a more comprehensive understanding of how young people’s involvement in youth cultural practices provide avenues for an increased sense of well-being in youth, and indeed post-youth, stages of life.

Keywords: youth; youth culture; music; creativity; well-being.


Carmen Leccardi: A new individualism? Contemporary scenarios of young people's wellbeing

In this presentation, the wellbeing of young people is considered from a specific point of view: the well-being related to the possibility of having one’s abilities and skills socially recognized; the possibility to construct projects and fulfil them; the opportunity to exercise forms of control over life time. All these aspects refer to an idea of the ‘good life’ adapted to the twenty-first century - and, in parallel, to the many difficulties that young people today encounter in making their own free choices. The thesis advanced is that the accumulated experiences of young people today go in the direction of a progressive individualization of responsibilities, amid a social scenario which is increasingly uncertain. For young women and young men, in partly differentiated forms, the central problem therefore concerns the exercise of subjectivity. It is hence necessary to reflect on the new forms of ‘youthful individualism’ in its relationship with contemporary wellbeing, using a conceptual network able to focus on its forms of expression but also its roots.


Sian Lincoln: Getting away from it all? Teenagers, Private Space and Wellbeing

The ‘classic’ histories of youth culture that have been so influential to the field of youth studies (as well as many other disciplinary fields) have, in the main, tended to focus on the experiences of young people in the public sphere (school, club, street and so on). Through these studies we learn what it means to be part of a youth subculture, the markers of membership through clothing, fashion, style as well as the significance of “hanging out” in the “right” locations as well as what it means to belong. However, these young people also lived significant parts of their lives at home, with their family, hanging out in their bedrooms and other private spaces. Yet we know very little about the meaning and significance of the domestic in their subcultural lives. In 2012, I published my ethnographic study of teenagers and their bedrooms entitled Youth Culture and Private Space in an attempt to address this theoretical gap. Here, I argue that “private” spaces such as the teenage bedroom are important hubs of youth cultural identity within which narratives of teenage life are curated through material objects as well as through the use of the space: the bedroom is a deeply personal space used resourcefully to mark out one’s identity and to make sense of a rapidly changing self, away from the outside world.

More recently, the metaphor of the bedroom has been adapted to examine young people’s growing up narratives as they play out on social network sites, considered an extension of this space. While reflecting back on my past work on ‘bedroom culture’ and current research on Facebook Timelines, in this keynote lecture I move away from discourses of isolation and fear often associated with “private” youth spaces such as bedrooms and social network sites to consider the therapeutic ways in which young people engage with them as they move through their teenage years. I consider the ethnographic evidence of using bedroom space to gain a sense of permanency through “anchoring” or grounding using objects in a fast-paced digital world, as well as the methodological approach of “making space” for participants through the “scroll back method” applied to the social network site Facebook (Robards & Lincoln, 2017). In this respect, I use this keynote lecture to consider how “private” spaces are there to “get away from it all”, but also how they are rich, in-depth archives of the self that are also used to confront and make sense of life too.


Jaana Lähteenmaa: Reflecting Finnish youth culture studies from the 1980’s onwards in relation to subculture- vs. post-subculture debate 

The CCCS- paradigm inspired youth researchers from the late 1980’s onwards to 1990s also in Finland. Yet, in empirical studies came soon evident, that youth subcultures were not based on class-based “parent- cultures”. Also girls’ position in subcultures seemed to be very different from those described in the CCCS- studies. Before the subcultural turn certain youth researchers in Finland came partly to same kind of critical conclusions about the fundamental problems of the CCCS-paradigm as Redken, Bennet et al. later. Some conclusions were, though, different. Especially Jaana Lähteenmaa (1991; 1995; 2000) developed further new modifications of the CCCS-paradigm, not rejecting it totally, as some others did. One of the most important new divisions constructed by her was “light versus heavy belonging” to subcultures, taking into account different ways of the young to belong to subcultural groupings (inspired by Georg Simmel’s (1858-1918) concept “die leichte Geselligkeit” - the light sociability). Lähteenmaa tried also to make new kind of interpretations of “imaginary solutions” made in the subcultures, taking into account the identity work- aspect: individuals’ different motivations and backgrounds behind their relations to subcultural scene (1995; 2000). Yet, there were certain fundamental problems in these latter speculations. Also later the term subculture has been utilised in the Finnish youth culture research. Yet, from year 2000 onwards Finnish youth researchers have been aware of the post-subcultural critics to CCCS in international youth studies, and taken it into account in their interpretations. In this keynote lecture I present these Finnish turns in subculture/ post-subculture debates. In the end of the lecture also the question of young peoples’ welfare and belonging – or not – to subcultural groupings will be discussed from theoretical point of view.